Seasonal inspiration

How Aussie winemakers celebrate Christmas

By Halliday Promotion

13 Nov, 2023

Six local producers tell us how they celebrate the festive season vine-side.

The festive season is a time for celebration and out at some of our favourite locations, winemakers and their teams are preparing to do just that. Whether it's Christmas day on the beach or a long-lunch beside the barrels, there's one thing all these producers have in common: their favourite festive drops. 

From Champagne and oysters, to fortified wine paired with Mum's Christmas cake, find out how our Aussie winemakers spend their festive seasons – and what they'll be drinking. 

Winemaker Tony De Lisio and director and founder, Peter Nicolaidis
Peter Nicolaidis, Grandeur Wellington SA 
H. How do you celebrate the festive season?
P. Christmas is a time to reflect on the year that was and it also reminds us that another vintage is not too far away. We often celebrate Christmas with close friends at the winery before the actual day, everyone brings their favourite wine and a plate and it becomes a sharing feast. On the day it is a family affair – great food, seafood starters, roast pork and lovely deserts. 

H. What will you be drinking this Christmas?
P. Because Christmas in Australia is hot, we always have our chilled and sparkling wines – or some lighter reds like grenache, sangiovese or a good pinot noir. Any crisp, fruity whites with nice acidity to cut through any fatty dish are perfect, or reds with good structure, balance and silky-smooth tannins. We will celebrate with pinot gris, sparkling moscato and a nice juicy shiraz.

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M. Chapoutier Australia general manager, Marco Hall.
Marco Hall, M. Chapoutier Australia VIC
H. What does Christmas look like at your winery?
M. We’re usually busy preparing for vintage, hand-waxing bottles and working with the cellar door team to make it look festive. We celebrate with our family, friends and work colleagues; the annual staff Christmas party is usually a good one as our financial year runs calendar year so we have dinner and enjoy some back vintages and champagne together.

H. What wines will be on your table this Christmas?
M. Some blanc de blancs Champagne, chardonnay, grenache and shiraz, with some food pairings to complement. Champagne is so delicious with seafood, as is our single vineyard Pyrenees Chardonnay with roast turkey – Santa doesn’t mind the single malt and homemade cookies we leave out for him on Christmas Eve either.

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Winemaker, Ed Swift.
Ed Swift, Printhie Wines NSW
H. What are your festive traditions?
E. The festive season is all about celebrating with family and friends – and food and wine pairing. We always start every celebration with a bottle from our Swift sparkling range. Sparkling wine is the perfect festive drink and ultimate pairing to freshly shucked oysters (thankfully we have a few expert shuckers in our family). It’s also the perfect drink to toast in the new year.

H. What are your Christmas wines of choice?
E. We like to get together for a Christmas dinner at the cellar door and everyone is asked to bring an interesting bottle of wine to taste, we enjoy discovering new and different wines from across the world. At home, Our Snow Line Three Pinots Rosé will feature as well as the Topography Chardonnay, and of course the Swift Sparkling – since these are aged sparklings, their complexity suits main meal pairings. They are more than just aperitifs.

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Managing director of Campbells Wines, Jane Campbell.
Jane Campbell, Campbells Wines VIC
H. How do you celebrate the festive season?
J. We always celebrate Christmas with excellent Champagne to start, present opening and then a selection of family wines from the cellar. Christmas lunch is a treat. Ours is quite traditional, with dinner following much later, tables brimming with seafood and Mum’s Christmas cake – which is delicious paired with a chilled Campbells Rutherglen Muscat. It’s our family Christmas must do!

H. What's your favourite Christmas memory?
J. As a young girl, I grew up alongside the winery at Bobbie Burns, which is where Christmas day was usually spent. The winery is closed to the public on the 25th and I’d be there with my two sisters in our new Christmas clothes, running around in the summer sun with Dad who was checking the tanks and various things. With no-one around it was our favourite spot to explore, with the excitement of the new vintage just around the corner.

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PepperGreen Estate viticulturist, Ben Brazenor.
Ben Brazenor, PepperGreen Estate NSW
H. What does Christmas look like at your winery?.
B. The PepperGreen Estate Team come together as a whole to relax, enjoy and reflect on the year that was and to celebrate our achievements. We share a meal that has been prepared by our wonderful head chefs. It's a chance for all involved to enjoy the wines that they have helped nurture and create, from the farm to the marketing team.

H. What will you be drinking?
B. We spend time on the coast at Christmas so we always have beautiful fresh Australia seafood, paired with my personal favourite, the PepperGreen Estate 2019 Dry Riesling. Of course, no Christmas is complete without sparkling wine and my preference is Sparkling Shiraz – however this year we are also looking forward to drinking our first ever PepperGreen Estate Méthode Traditionelle. Alternatively, our 2018 PepperGreen Estate Merlot - Single Vineyard with traditional glazed ham is a festive treat.

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Winemaker Alan Varney.
Alan Varney, Varney SA
H.  How do you celebrate the festive season?
A. We’re lucky to live very close to the beach at Port Noarlunga, South Australia. It’s our family tradition to set up on the sand and boil up a big pot of prawns and mussels and suck down some oysters. It’s a lazy day with no dishes, plus plenty of Champagne and beach cricket – at some stage I usually have a nice nap on the sand.

H. What wine says 'Christmas' to you?
A. How do you pick just one? My perfect progression through the day goes something like this: fino sherry, Champagne, Tassie fizz, Clare Valley riesling, white Burgundy or good Adelaide Hills chardy, Beaujolais, Tassie pinot and McLaren Vale grenache. If you’re still going into the evening and it gets a bit cool, maybe some vintage Port from Douro. That sounds like a lot... but don’t forget, there is plenty of time for leftover bottles on Boxing Day!

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This article was produced in partnership with the featured wineries.